The organization has been part of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan since 1996, and is one of 43 facilities that house captive red wolves.
This is the third litter for Reflection Riding with litters born in 2007 and 2011. There are approximately 50 wild red wolves left in the world. These wolves live in northeastern North Carolina.
The red wolf, which is native to the Southeast, is the most endangered mammal in the North America and the eighth most endangered mammal in the world.
In the early 1960s, scientists realized the red wolf was in trouble and began monitoring its population. By the 1970s the red wolf population migrated to the Texas/Louisiana coast because of habitat loss.
During the 1970s, scientists captured and held approximately 400 canids believed to carry red wolf genes. Through DNA testing they were able to prove that 17 of 400 were Red Wolves. Of the 17 only 14 were strong enough to breed. These 14 were transferred to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash., to begin the captive breeding program. At that point in time the red wolf was declared extinct in the wild.
In 1987, four pairs were released into northeastern North Carolina. This is the first time in history that a canid declared extinct in the wild was restored to its native territory.
2010 saw a high point in the red wolf population. At this point there was an estimated 120 red wolves living in the wild. Since then the population has declined to an approximately 50 red wolves living in the wild. The decline in population is attributed to multiple factors including gunshot mortality and political pressure.
The captive breeding program continues to have a steady population of around 200 red wolves. Of the 43 Red Wolf Species Survival Plan program participants, Reflection Riding houses six red wolves, making the organization a leading member of the program.
On Thursday, June 23, Reflection Riding, in conjunction WildSouth, will celebrate the accomplishments of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan with a discussion and film series on wolves and their benefits to the ecosystem.
This event will take place at St. Timothy’s Church on Signal Mountain. It starts with a reception at 6.30 followed by the program at 7:15.
The films include “How Wolves Change Rivers” and the newly produced “Red Wolf Revival.” Come see how important this apex predator is and how you can affect change in its future.
Make your reservation with Reflection Riding at www.reflectionriding.org or 423-821-1160.